Shelley man headed to Hall of Fame
SHELLEY – A short time ago, Bryan Huntsman’s old wrestling coach, Alan Gardner, came to Huntsman’s office and handed him an envelope.
In that envelope was a letter of congratulations for Huntsman’s selection for induction into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, Idaho Chapter.
“Honestly, my first thoughts were, ‘I’m not deserving of this,’” Huntsman said.
Huntsman’s induction into the Hall, scheduled in May, is as an outstanding American who was a wrestler at some time in his career.
Huntsman wrestled for Shelley High School for three years. He was a member of the Russets’ Class A2 state championship team in 1978 and of two third-place teams at state the previous two years.
“I was really quite shocked,” Huntsman said of his selection. “We had some great teams back then but I didn’t even win a state championship.”
He placed third in his weight division his sophomore and junior seasons and finished second (losing by a point) in the team’s state championship year.
“It was kind of bittersweet, winning the title but losing my own championship match,” he recalled.
Although he didn’t wrestle in college, Huntsman has maintained a relationship with the sport and its participants throughout his life. A physical therapist, he has maintained a relationship with high school athletes in a variety of sports.
“Wrestling taught me success is a self-determined thing,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman said he wasn’t a particularly good student in high school. But, after serving an LDS Church mission to Oakland, Calif., he began an educational journey at Ricks College.
“My biology professor was Dr. Lyle Lowder, who I owe a lot to,” Huntsman said. “After I had aced one particularly difficult test, he interviewed me and asked me what I was going to do with my life.”
Huntsman didn’t have a clear idea until Lowder’s interview. “He changed my whole attitude,” Huntsman said.
After graduating from Ricks, he moved on to BYU and earned a bachelor’s degree. He then earned a master’s degree in physical therapy from Texas Women’s University in Houston.
While attending college in Idaho and Utah, Huntsman began officiating high school wrestling. He had to take a break from that pursuit in Texas because there was no high school wrestling in the southeast part of that state.
Overall he refereed about 10 years before deciding he needed to spend more time with his family. He and his wife of 28 years, Rhona, have four daughters and a son.
Following graduation from TWU, Huntsman returned to home and took a job at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. He eventually opened his own physical therapy clinic with a partner.
Shortly after returning to Shelley, he became involved with volunteer activities at the high school.
He has provided athletic training coverage for athletes in all the school’s sports for the past 23 years. All of his children have participated in sports there.
“I felt I wanted to come back and give back to the people who helped me out,” Huntsman said of his continued involvement in high school athletics.
He has many treasured memories over the years.
“Being part of that state championship team was a big highlight,” he said. “My friends Greg Kennedy, Jeff Hunter and Cary Lewis are those who helped me become who I am. We had a group of kids that were achievers.”
Another thing Huntsman said he enjoys is helping rehabilitate an injured athlete and seeing him come back. He has been working with the grandson of Teton coaching great Alvin Dalley, who is a senior at Skyline.
“My years in refereeing were a big highlight,” he said. “I had the opportunity to referee several state championships.
“I’ve always related to that kid who lost his last match,” he said.
Of Gardner’s decision to hand-deliver Huntsman’s induction notice, Huntsman said, “to have your old coach nominate you is pretty special.
“I’m very honored that I was considered. It’ll be a highlight in my life,” Huntsman concluded.